Milunka Savić is one of those people who achieved so much yet receives so little recognition. This article aims to bring light to the brave, bold and courageous tale of Milukna, Serbia’s female Sergeant in WW1 - the woman who would become the most decorated female soldier of all time.


Born on the 28th of June 1982 as a Serbian, she had a normal childhood. Not too poor, not too rich. However, when the year 1912 arrived, it all changed. Her brother was diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly before he received a Call To Arms by the Serbian army to fight against the invading Ottoman Empire in what would become known as the First Balkan War. She would make the decision to enlist in her brother’s place - something unknown of at the time. Cutting her hair short and wearing the clothes of her brother, she would fight fearlessly in the First and Second Balkan Wars in her brother’s place. In the Battle of Bregalnica, the largest battle of the Second Balkan War, she would be promoted to corporal for her efforts against the imposing Bulgarian forces. 


However, her secret was not kept for long. Injured in battle, in hospital her true identity was revealed (Probably at a bit of a shock to the people operating on her!). However, you would expect her to be dismissed at this point. However, you could not be more wrong.


In 1914, with the outbreak of World War One across Europe, she was called into arms again. She was quick to be decorated, being awarded (her first of two) Karađorđe Star with Swords in the early days of the war after a fierce battle against Austria-Hungary at Kolubara. Her second awarding of the Karađorđe Star with Swords came at the battle of Crna Bend in 1916, where, on her own, she captured just over 20 soldiers. 


In the war, she served in Serbia’s “Iron Squadron”, a group of elite shock troopers designed to attack the enemy with vast amounts of speed and violence. She would survive the war in this squadron, being awarded the French Légion d’Honneur (twice!), as well as The British medal of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Micheal, the Russian Cross of St. George, and was the only female to ever receive the French Croix de Guerre with the gold palm attribute for her efforts in the war.


However, after World War One ended, she slipped into the darkness. Adopting 3 children after the birth of her own, she would live quietly and happily in Belgrade, working her whole life as a cleaner in the State Mortgage Bank. Tragically, she died on October 5th in 1973 at the age of 81. 


Her memory lives on with a statue of her Inđija, a region of Belgrade, and a memorial complex opened in 2020 was devoted to her in Jošanička Banja in southwestern Serbia. Her memory also lives on in music; the Swedish power-metal band Sabaton (to whom I listen quite a lot!) told her story in their 2022 studio album “The War To End All Wars”, with the song “Lady Of The Dark” being dedicated to her.


So, as the Sabaton song says: raise your hand, for the Lady Of The Dark; the most decorated female soldier in history.